Haft lavishes praise, board seats on younger son

July 30, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

In the latest act in the retail industry's equivalent of "King Lear," Dart Group Corp. Chairman Herbert H. Haft publicly shifted his affections to his younger son, Ronald, four weeks after banishing his eldest son, Robert, from all corporate posts.

Ronald Haft, 34, who previously had been involved mostly in the real estate end of the family's business empire, was named to the boards of directors of Crown Books Corp, Trak Auto Corp. and Shoppers Food Warehouse, as well as Dart, the holding company that controls a majority interest in the three chains.

In a departure from the usually terse style of Dart corporate announcements, yesterday's release was laden with almost fulsome praise of the "keen retailing instincts" and "sound business judgment" of its new director.

"Ronald Haft is extraordinarily well-prepared to contribute to the future growth and direction of Dart and its affiliated companies," Herbert Haft was quoted as saying. "He has a record of exceptional success as a hard-working, unselfish builder of value in the context of the retail and real estate businesses which are the heart and soul of our enterprises. I am delighted that he was willing to join us as a director."

Last month, in a prelude to the summary firing of Robert Haft as chairman of Crown Books and chief operating officer of Dart, Herbert Haft ousted his own wife, Gloria Haft, and Robert from their seats of the Crown and Dart boards.

Herbert Haft, 72, moved against his elder son and heir apparent after a long-simmering succession struggle culminated in a Wall Street Journal article in which Robert Haft, 40, said he was the de facto chief executive of Dart. Robert Haft was best known as the originator of the deep-discount book-retailing business and the founder of Crown Books.

However, it is Herbert Haft who controls a 57 percent majority of the voting stock in Dart, which in turn controls the other companies.

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